NY African Film Fest Preview: Malick Sidibé Doc - 'Dolce Vita Africana' - Makes USA Debut

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 29, 2013 4:51 PM
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You've probably seen his work - his photographs, specifically - even if you may not be know his name; although I'm sure many of you do.

Internationally-renowned Malian photographer Malick Sidibé is the subject of a feature documentary, produced in 2008, but which will only now be making its USA premiere, at the upcoming New York African Film Festival, which starts next week.

Directed by Cosima Spender, the documentary is titled Dolce Vita Africana

It provides audiences with a portrait of Sidibé, as well as a journey through Malian history, as captured in his iconic images, taken from the late 50s through to the early 70s, capturing a youthful, carefee spirit during those early days of Malian independence - until a coup ushered in years of a military dictatorship.

Sidibé was born in 1936, and thanks to his early drawing ability, he was accepted for an advanced arts education in Bamako, in the early 1950s, and studied at the School for Sudanese Arts (now the National Institute of Art). 

He graduated in jewelry production in 1955. 

He later worked under French photographer Gérard Guillat where had the opportunity to learn photography basics, after which he began taking portraits, leading to a now renowned body of work, and worldwide recognition,.

He opened his own studio (Studio Malick) in Bamako, in the 1960s, where he continued to operate from, for decades, documenting the spirit of the passing times, reflecting gradual social change.

His first major international retrospective was presented at the Fondation Cartier in Paris in 1995. Since then, his work has been shown in solo exhibitions at major art museums and photography centers all over the world. 

In 1998, a comprehensive compilation of his work, titled simply Malick Sidibé, was published.

And now, thanks to Cosima Spender's 2008 documentary, Dolce Vita Africana, you can get to know the man even more intimately, when the film makes its USA premiere at the New York African Film Festival, which runs from April 3 - 9, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

I found a clip from the film online, which you can watch below:

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